The European Commission has recently presented the Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion 2021-2027. A new approach to promote the inclusion of non-EU citizens with an emphasis on the European way of life. Integration and inclusion are the key words for people coming to Europe and for the well-being of our society.
There are four main areas of action
The action plan sets out measures to intensify action and bring together actors at all levels in a community effort aimed at achieving integration and inclusion to build more cohesive societies.
In this new Journal’s article we will take a closer look at the four main action areas of the new European Integration Plan, areas that push for the promotion of integration and social cohesion.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Education is one of the fundamental values of the Union, a significant pillar promoting education for all citizens irrespective of their gender or background. Inclusion and gender equality are one of the six dimensions of the European Education Area to be achieved by 2025 through the development of a series of concrete initiatives. Making our education systems more inclusive is also a key objective of the Digital Education Action Plan.
Schools have the potential to be true integration hubs for children and their families. The goal of the European Union through ECEC, Early Childhood Education and Care, is to increase the active participation of citizens in education by promoting the integration of children from a migrant background. These initiatives ensure that programmes are equipped to accommodate culturally and linguistically diverse children. Promoting active participation in education can have a strong positive effect on their future educational attainment and this includes learning the language of the host country from their parents and families in general.
To achieve this, teachers need to be equipped with the skills and resources necessary to teach in multicultural and multilingual classrooms and support migrant children by combating segregation in schools in favour of interaction between native and migrant children. One of the crucial objectives of this action area is to teach the European values of democracy, citizenship and critical thinking skills to prevent young people’s inclination towards extremist ideologies, organisations and movements.
What does the European Union aim to achieve in this area?
EMPLOYMENT AND SKILLS
The agenda for the competences for Europe aims to support everyone, including migrants, in developing more and better skills. Migrants make up a significant part of the EU’s workforce.
The Covid-19 pandemic has made clear their rich contribution to European economies and labour markets. However, there is a risk that the skills that migrants possess are not always recognised, as they often find it difficult to find a job that reflects their level of background.
Effective labour market inclusion of migrants and EU citizens with a migrant background requires the active cooperation of a wide variety of actors, including public authorities at local, regional, national and European level, as well as civil society organisations and employers.
The agenda therefore aims to achieve certain objectives:
One of the problems affecting migrants in Europe is difficult access to health services. Migrants often encounter specific and persistent barriers to accessing health services, including administrative obstacles, fears over uncertain length of stay, discrimination, lack of information and unfamiliarity with the health system.
In addition, the Covid-19 pandemic exposed inequalities in access to healthcare and demonstrated that these inequalities pose a risk to society at large. This is due to the fact that migrants, being more likely to be in jobs that require close contact with others, are exposed to higher risks that may endanger others.
The objectives set are:
Access to adequate and affordable housing is a key factor for integration. Housing conditions have a strong impact on employment and education opportunities and on the interaction between migrants and natives. Inadequate housing conditions and segregation can exacerbate divisions and undermine social cohesion. The availability of self-sufficient housing for asylum seekers with a high probability of obtaining protection can
accelerate the integration process, especially when linked to the timely provision of services to support integration.
What is to be achieved in this area:
Supporting Member States’ action on immigration and inclusion through EU funding will remain a priority for the Commission.
Education, training, integration and social inclusion are among the core values of the European Union, which aims at a diverse yet cohesive community.
Being European and understanding the importance of one’s own identity is fundamental to live European citizenship with more awareness, which does not refer to the relationship between the citizen and the sovereign authority (State), but identifies the belonging to a community, the European one, united by a set of principles and values.